Have you ever tried to start your own online business? As many of our own Fishbowl employees can attest, it’s a lot of work. Not only do you need to design your own website and keep it up to date with your entire product line, but you have to maintain the inventory and Pick, Pack and Ship the orders as well, OR, if you don’t want to manage the inventory yourself you can simply forward your sales orders on to a drop shipper and they’ll manage it for you. All of this takes time, effort, and a lot of know-how, so I thought I would share the success story of a small business (and happy Fishbowl customer) from just few miles down the road from our Fishbowl headquarters here in Orem, Utah.
The Mending Shed was founded in 1971 as a small mom-and-pop repair shop fixing almost anything that was brought in, from furniture to home appliances. They expanded with an online store and warehouse in 2001 when they had six employees and used QuickBooks to manage all their orders and track inventory. For those new to online sales, the shopping cart is the chunk of software that manages the orders on your website. At a minimum, it requires all your product numbers (called SKUs or Stock-Keeping Units), descriptions, and pricing for each product. Usually it also includes pictures of each item and the amount of inventory currently available for those items. All of this is referred to as the Online Store, which is completely separate from the brick-and-mortar store unless the proper links between the two are created. Note: With the dozens of shopping carts and inventory control solutions currently available, this usually means that an outside consulting firm needs to create the links between the online store and the in-house software.
Mendingshed.com currently uses eCommerce by Yahoo for its shopping cart, which they originally linked directly to QuickBooks for order processing, but QuickBooks had no location tracking capabilities. With Mendingshed.com’s 2,000 SKUs, this became a bit problematic to manage. The only way for the employees to prepare orders for shipment was to memorize the location of every SKU, which would take an average of two months for each new employee to master. Additionally, QuickBooks was unable to handle held orders, or orders that were held up from being shipped for various reasons (such as insufficient inventory). The crew would literally lay out all the held orders on the floor and group the orders based on which orders were still waiting on a part. This was a time-consuming and confusing process.
Often, prior to using Fishbowl Inventory, the six employees would spend all day and into the night to get their orders shipped, and at times would be backed up several hundred orders. With the implementation of Fishbowl Inventory, only those orders that were fully in stock would be scheduled to be picked. This meant that those in the warehouse did not have to check the bins for every part on an order to see if they had the needed inventory. As a result, the amount of time required to pick orders was greatly reduced and they were therefore able to reduce the number of employees shipping orders from six to just two (and those two would take only half a day to pick and ship those orders). This left the remaining four employees to be reassigned to other tasks that they had been unable to get to before, like improving their website.
As Justin, the Mendingshed.com IT manager says, “When we got Fishbowl [Inventory] we were able to focus on our real jobs!” And, as a consequence of using Fishbowl Inventory, Mendingshed.com was able to simplify and organize their inventory to the point where they reduced the training time for new employees to just two weeks. They were also able to focus more on their online store and eventually make a more fully integrated connection to their warehouse thereby providing more updated inventory information and improving the customer experience.
Mendingshed.com now has 10 employees and has expanded their product line to include not only spare parts for appliances but repair parts for Power Wheels vehicles for kids. All purchased parts are shipped to and stored at the Mending Shed warehouse to handle all their online orders, or transferred to the repair shop on an as-needed basis through Fishbowl Inventory’s Transfer Order capability.
Read the full case study here.
Till next time…
Grant Kimball is currently serving as vice president, partner relations and is one of the founders of Fishbowl. Grant joined the original Fishbowl team in 2001 and has filled many roles in, or related to, sales. Previous to his current role, he was vice president of sales and marketing. Grant brings 24 years of sales experience to Fishbowl, primarily in technology-related fields. In 2003, Grant helped steer Fishbowl towards integration with QuickBooks, the popular accounting package from Intuit Corporation. Since 2003, Fishbowl has focused on this relationship and is currently the #1-requested add-on software solution for QuickBooks users out of approximately 300 software packages. Besides the relationship with Intuit, Grant is also responsible for developing Fishbowl’s growing resellers program, which he is currently managing, and now accounts for over 20% of Fishbowl’s total sales. Grant earned a Master’s in Computer Integrated Manufacturing from Brigham Young University and a Bachelor’s in Operations Management from Cal Poly, Pomona.